Spirometry (Pulmonary function tests)

Spirometry is the most common type of pulmonary function or breathing test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs, as well as how easily and fast you can the blow the air out of your lungs.

Spirometry is helpful in assessing breathing patterns that identify conditions such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is also helpful as part of a system of health surveillance, in which breathing patterns are measured over time.

Contraindications for this test are:

  • acute myocardial infarction within 48 hours
  • thoracic, abdominal, or cerebral aneurysms
  • unstable angina
  • myocarditis and/or pericarditis in acute phase
  • endocarditis
  • pneumothorax
  • pulmonary embolism in acute phase
  • cataracts or recent eye surgery
  • recent thoracic or abdominal surgery
  • nausea, vomiting, or acute illness
  • recent or current viral infection

Spirometry has no risks.

For this exam the preparation required is very simple:

  • avoid big meals before testing
  • do not smoke for at least six hours prior to testing
  • wear comfortable clothes
  • if you are taking a short-acting inhaler that is used only as needed, do not use for six to eight hours prior to testing, if possible.
  • please bring all your medications or a list of them with doses to your appointment
  • please speak to your physician prior to this exam to receive special instructions you may need regarding your medications

The spirometry test is performed using a device called spirometer.

During the test, a clip is placed on your nose and you will be given a plastic mouthpiece connected to the spirometry machine.

You will place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece and be asked to take in as big and deep a breath as possible and then blow out as hard and fast as you can.

This maximal effort is very important, and testing will be repeated at least three times to get the best results.

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